Oklahoma: Human Health
Increases in high temperatures and frequency of heat waves are expected to increase the number of heat-related illnesses and deaths.
Ozone (O3) is a highly reactive and toxic gas formed at ground-levels when air pollutants, such as car emissions and nitrogen oxides, volatilize in combination with high temperatures and sunlight. Ozone is toxic to humans, causing damages to lung tissue, which can reduce overall lung function, increase sensitivity to other irritants, and increase the incidence of, and irritation to,asthma. Studies show that repeated exposure to ozone, as would occur with increased temperatures and a longer warm season due to climate change, can cause permanent structural damage to the lungs.
Upper and lower respiratory allergies are influenced by humidity levels; a 2 degree increase in temperature combined with higher moisture conditions could significantly increase incidences of respiratory allergies.
Warmer and wetter conditions in Oklahoma could increase risk from mosquito vectored diseases, such as malaria, dengue, and western equine encephalitis. With these changes to climate conditions, mosquito populations could increase in number, as well as increase their range and length of breeding season, which in turn increases the risk of disease transmission.
Increased run off from heavy rainfall events could increase water-borne diseases, such as giardia, crypotsporidia, and both the bacterial and viral form of gastroencephalitis.
Blue-green algae blooms stimulated by shallow, warm surface water conditions may increase and become problematic. The toxins released by BGA may cause allergic reactions, damage to the central nervous system and brain, as well as damage to the liver and other internal organs.
Warmer temperatures and increased seasonal precipitation could increase lowlying vegetation, and with it, the invasion of ticks carrying Lyme disease and other tick-borne diseases, as well as their rodent hosts.